Monday, April 23, 2012

Unplug, Relax, Unwind...It's Vacation Time!

It's two days before I leave the office for a total of 11 days, but who is counting?  I am headed to New Orleans to speak at LA SHRM and as soon as I say, "Thank you very much, "  I am headed to the beach.

As you can see, I also have writers block, so I am rambling on about my vacation.

I have pre-vacation writers block.  I usually come up with a topic in the shower, but all I can think about is my vacation list.  Beach hats, suntan oil, romance novels and adult beverages.

I am very jealous of my fellow blogger, Chris Havrilla as she has a dozen or so topics floating around in her head...and I can't come up with one!

So, I am writing about unplugging and my need to unplug.

I am one of those annoying people that get out of bed and checks email, I get out of my car with my phone to my ear, and I am usually texting or tweeting while attending events.  I am never not typing or talking.  I believe it's an addiction.  "Hello, my name is Cathy Missildine, and I can't unplug."  "Hello, Cathy!"

So, I want to challenge myself AFTER the conference to UNPLUG.  I mean totally.   The problem is my electronics will be with me and that makes me nervous.  Also, I want to be able to show everyone via pics how much fun I am having...right?  I tell myself I have to have my phone, what if my son calls me?  He is 19, not 2, he will be fine....I think.

My advice to everyone I know, is to get away from the office.  You need a break from it all.  I am wondering why I can't do that myself?  It's not that I think the office will cave in without me as Barbara Hughes has that under control.  Maybe, it's my own need to feel connected.

I can feel myself over the last few weeks being extremely burned out.  I feel like my creative juices aren't flowing as they usually do.  It's been a tough last few years both professionally and personally (notice the last name change, @cathymissildine).  So, I believe a vacation is definitely what the Dr. has ordered.

So, now I am accountable to everyone...after Friday, no calls, no letters, no tweets, no Foursquare updates, no Facebook, no LinkedIn, no Pinterest, no Blog.

I feel like I am fixin' to break out in a cold sweat, just thinking about it...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Let's be Influential Instead of Strategic

Blah, blah..strategic

Blah, partner

Blah, at the piece of furniture.

I say shut up!  Change the conversation.  Please!

I will be attending and speaking at two conferences in the next few months, Louisiana SHRM and SHRM National's conference in my hometown, Atlanta, Georgia.

I hope to hear a very different conversation.  I hope I don't hear the word table or seat or any other piece of furniture.

I want to talk about this new era of Human Resources.  The one where we INFLUENCE our organizations.  We, as HR professionals have been in a defensive mode for the entire time I have been in HR.  We defend our tactics, we defend our existence, we defend our budgets.

I believe it's time for a little offense.  As the economy slowly unthaws and talent begins to have more choices, HR will be in the spotlight once again.  I believe we need to start conversation today on how we can retain our top talent, attract new top talent and impact our organizations ROI for talent related expenses.

HR is at a critical juncture to be able to influence how talent is managed in organizations:
Influence: The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
Doesn't the above definition speak to HR like it was written for us?  What can we do to be more influential?  Here are a few of my ideas:

The end goal of influence should be commitment.  HR can use its influence to gain commitment from managers to stay focused on talent by making sure talent is rewarded, trained and developed for future roles.

According to Gary Yuki, a professor at the University of Albany, you can build commitment in three primary ways.  Inspiration appeal, rational persuasion, and consultation.  According to Yuki:

  • Inspirational Appeal involves making a request or proposal that arouses the recipient’s enthusiasm by appealing to their values, ideals, and aspirations. To use inspirational appeal, do this:
    –Appeal to the person’s ideals and values.
    –Link the request to a clear and appealing vision.
    –Use a dramatic, expressive style of speaking.
    –Use positive, optimistic language.
  • Rational Persuasion involves the use of logic and facts to attain desirable outcomes. To use rational persuasion:
    –Explain the reason for a request or proposal.
    –Explain how the person would benefit from your proposal.
    –Provide evidence that your proposal is feasible.
    –Explain why your proposal is better than competing ones.
    –Explain how problems or concerns would be handled.
  • Consultation seeks the recipient’s participation in planning a strategy, activity, or change for which the person’s support and assistance are desired. To use consultation:
    –Ask for suggestions on how to improve a tentative proposal.
    –State your objective and ask what the recipient can do to help you attain it.
    –Involve the other person in planning how to attain an objective.
    –Respond to the person’s concerns and suggestions

So, instead of the end goal of "being strategic," I believe it's about building influence.  What do you think?  Do you think the conversation needs to change?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Should We Reward Effort?

It's all about pay for performance, right?  In this environment where companies are still watching costs and efficiencies it seems that pay for performance has made a much needed resurgence.  I have had several conversations on performance management in the last few weeks.

Most recently, the topic of rewarding results vs. effort came up.  From a business leaders perspective they are razor focused on results.  In other words, you can make all the effort in the world, but it you don't reach the finish line it doesn't matter.  What about our Millennials and Gen Yers?  I don't think this strategy of rewarding results is very effective.  Remember these are the employees that as children received a trophy for actually showing up to the t-ball game.

In my mind, the equation for performance is relatively simple:

Intrinsic motivators lead to a motivated employee putting forth effort to reach a desired goal.  

Sounds simple but many things can derail the above.  Extrinsic factors like work environment,  pay, and supervisory actions can impact the reaching of goals in a negative or positive way.
So, my question is simple...why not reward effort?  
My next conversation was quite interesting.  I met with colleagues Ed Nangle and Mike Haberman to discuss HR related topics.  We began to discuss the efforts vs. results in performance management.  Ed's perspective was the purest form of performance management I had ever heard.   Ed's philosophy is based on MBO's.  For Director's and above MBO's are agreed upon at the beginning of the year.  The manager is rated and if 95% of goals are obtained then the employee keeps 95% of his/her salary.  WOW! So salary can be taken away depending on how well you achieve goals.  NO AMBIGUITY there.

As I thought about that approach, I thought wow, this type of compensation philosophy is very straightforward and probably by design does not allow for poor performers, as if you don't perform, you make no money.  Ed said that they had used this successfully in companies that the had previously worked with.  He said that line level employees were held accountable by their managers as the line level employee's performance directly impacted their managers checks.

What's your philosophy?  Is effort rewarded or only results?

Monday, April 2, 2012

7 Ways HR can Contribute to Exceptional Customer Service

It seems like every organization I interact with is claiming to be customer focused, customer centric or they are putting the customer first.

I started thinking abut whose job is it, to be customer focused?  Is is the Customer Service Department's job?  Is it the job of operations?

I happen to think it is everyone's job.  Yes, customer service has the role of servicing and delighting customers but organizations also have internal customers as well.  So, even if an employee is not customer facing doesn't mean that he/she does not have to have exceptional customer service skills.

I also happen to believe that HR plays a huge role in customer service.  After all, who is responsible for hiring, training and evaluating employees as it relates to exceptional customer service?

Here is just a partial list on how HR can contribute to exceptional customer service:

  1. Hire customer centric employees using behavioral based tools that identify customer centric traits and/or behaviors.
  2. Train employees on exceptional customer service skills, defining what the experience looks like in the organization.
  3. Create reward and recognition programs that invent customer-centric behaviors.
  4. Make sure job descriptions include customer-centric tasks/behaviors
  5. Link performance management process to overall customer service goals and objectives.
  6. Make sure managers and leaders understand the link between engaged employees and exceptional customer service
  7. Hold managers accountable for customer service levels for their departments
Companies like Apple, Zappo's and the Ritz absolutely understand that customer service is everyone's job and that the underlying infrastructure is key to getting the customer focused strategy executed.   All departments and functions must work together in order to pull off consistent, exceptional service.  

What is your secret to delighting your customers?  How has HR contributed to that success?  What do you measure in terms of the customer experience?